Capitalist Cocktails and Moscow Mules


“Capitalist Cocktails and Moscow Mules: The Art World and Alter-Globalization Protest,” Globalizations (Special Issue: Disciplining Dissent) 8.4 (2011), pp. 473-86.

This paper analyzes the relationship between contemporary art and protest. Are art exhibitions used to discipline dissent? Certainly that is the accepted view amongst many artists, activists and scholars, who argue that exhibitions of protest art might echo the issues of the protest, but they do so in “context[s] without consequence.” In answer, a number of curators have attempted instead to bring art exhibitions to the protests as a way of potentially avoiding the institutional depoliticizing logic of the museum or gallery. Focusing on a PR event titled “Massive Uprising,” which took place in Toronto and two exhibitions, “Art Goes to Heiligendamm,” organized at anti-G8 protests, and “RETHINK,” held amid the COP15  negotiations in Copenhagen, I ask do the power relationships change if political or activist art is showcased outside of the institution? I conclude that all three examples were ultimately unsuccessful in their aims, but that they nevertheless raise important questions regarding the role art might play in protest or oppositional action.

Read a pre-publication version of the paper here.

Image: Dodi Reifenberg, Lies, Lust and Fashion, Art Goes to Heiligendamm

About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.
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